To the Spotlight:
Thanks for your coverage of the effort to enact a paid sick days benefit for workers within Albany County. Sadly, this legislation went down to defeat in our Democratically-controlled county Legislature. Eleven self-styled Democrats and every Republican legislator voted against giving low wage workers the right to stay home when ill. Shameful.
Over the many months this common-sense, human decency bill has been under consideration, the sponsors have amended it to address legitimate concerns of small businesses — those with five or fewer employees must provide only unpaid sick time; employers of seasonal and temporary workers — it takes 90 days of employment for any worker to begin to accrue earned sick time.
Still, as they have done for every single pro-worker benefit ever considered by a legislative body, the Chamber of Commerce and lobbyists for the hospitality industry came out in force to oppose earned sick days. Probably these trotters-out of the same old lies and distortions have never had to manage on a minimum wage and no sick time. For make no mistake: middle class and professional workers take sick time for granted. It is a working class and poor person’s issue.
Opponents’ dire predictions have never come to pass. The fact is, localities with earned sick days experience lower worker turnover, higher worker productivity, and no businesses leaving.
Albany County businesses need a “level playing field” or business will move to Rensselaer or Schenectady counties. Requiring Earned Sick Days of Albany businesses will make our prices higher and make us less competitive.
Many businesses in the county already provide ESD. This bill would actually “level the playing field” for all businesses within the county, so all employees would be treated fairly, with dignity.
We are not against ESD, but think it should be done at the state level.
This argument is disingenuous at best. Business always opposes pro-worker legislation, at whatever level: Raising the minimum wage, providing even unpaid family leave, increasing worker’s comp, doing away with child labor, reasonably accommodating the disabled in the workplace. The route to change is often accomplished locality by locality. Have you ever seen a business lobby work for workers’ rights or benefits?
No restaurant makes their workers work when ill.
Many of us can testify that we have seen ill servers; many have testified that public health requires ill workers stay home rather than expose the public and co-workers to germs and illness. Sick workers have lower productivity; the spread of illness in the community increases health care costs for all.
No business will fire a worker for staying home when sick, or with a sick child.
There are good employers and bad employers. Even when an employee is entitled to ESD, employers sometimes fire them. A better balance has represented these workers and won their benefits.
ESD harms the economy, drives small business out, resulting in fewer jobs and lower wages.
Connecticut, San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, and Westchester County all have ESD laws. Studies show that employment rates and the economy in the hospitality and leisure industry have grown since enactment; businesses now support ESD; even members of the Chamber of Commerce overwhelmingly support ESD.
Thank you for publishing the names of those who voted against this bill. Now it’s up to us to vote them out.
Member, Working Families Party and Citizen Action